HUBERT LITTON WILLIAMS
Hubert Litton Williams was one of the middle class boys who attended Calday Grange Grammar School. Unlike some of his contemporaries he served in the ranks. There were some complicated relationships in his immediate family.
Cap badge of the Cheshire Regiment
Hubert was born in the spring of 1884 at Birkdale, Lancashire the son of John Williams (born 1850 in Liverpool) and Mary Ardern Langshaw (1857-1899) who came from Penketh, near Widnes in Lancashire.
John Williams was the son of James Besden (or Basden) Williams (1821-1874) a successful tailor who became a merchant tailor and draper employing many people. The son of John Williams, a mariner, by 1848 he was trading on his own at 62 South Castle Street, Liverpool according to Slater’s Directory for 1848, having dissolved a partnership with a George Daney in November 1844.
In 1847 he was in Ireland marrying Margaret Clarke (1820-1908) the daughter of Hugh C Clarke, an auctioneer who held property in the Shankhill area of Belfast.
In 1851 he has 2 sons (including John) and the family were living at 15 West Seacombe Terrace, Seacombe with a household servant. At this stage he is already employing 18 men. By 1861 the growing family has moved to 111 Parliament Street, Liverpool and he has progressed to merchant tailor.
The final move is to Beresford Lodge on the corner of Beresford and Alton Roads in Oxton, Birkenhead.
Unfortunately James Besden Williams did not enjoy this for long as he died in 1874 aged only 53, leaving nearly £10,000. His widow Margaret lived in the same house until she died at the age of 88. His sons had not become tailors, so presumably the business was sold.
So Hubert’s father John Williams grew up in increasing luxury. He worked, initially as a clerk, in the provisions trade. On 29 Apr 1878 he married Mary Ardern Langshaw at St Oswald, Bidston.
Hubert’s mother Mary Ardern Langshaw was the daughter of John Langshaw (1822-1860) and Hannah Litton (1826-1913). It was a second marriage for both of them.
John Langshaw who was born in Allerton, Lancashire and lived the rest of his life in the Warrington area, probably losing his parents quite young, as at the age of 19 he was working as a clerk for a brewer John Ardern and chose to name Hubert’s mother for his employer. He worked mainly as a traveller for a brewery all his life. His first marriage to Anna Gerrard in 1847 only lasted 7 years before she died aged 27 childless.
He married Hannah Litton on 1 May 1856 at All Saints, Chorlton upon Medlock, but left her widowed for a second time on 7 Nov 1860 leaving about £300, when he died aged only 38.
Hannah Litton had married Peter Chrimes, a cooper, on 5 May 1847, but he died in December of the same year aged 30. This was another childless marriage.
Despite only having £300, Hannah managed to bring up 3 children and generally employ at least one servant. Son Thomas Litton Langshaw was even sent to boarding school (but would appear not to have lead a successful life, certainly not able to assist his mother financially). Her father, a miller, had himself died at the age of 41 when Hannah was 13. It is not known how much money he left, but his widow Margaret left £600 when she died in 1875. Hannah lived most of her life in the Warrington area, moving to live with 2 nieces at 20 Bidston Road, Oxton in extreme old age.
Hubert would certainly have known both of his grandmothers as he was already in his 20s before either of them died.
Hubert only had one sibling, elder brother John Langshaw Williams (born 1878 in Birkenhead).
In 1891 Hubert and his brother were lodging in Parkgate with their mother, while their father was visiting a provision merchant in Bebington. His mother died in Liverpool in the summer of 1899, but it is not known where the family was living at the time, nor where she is buried.
As Hubert attended Calday Grange Grammar school, the family probably moved to West Kirby some time before his mother died, as he was already 15 years old by then.
John Williams waited no more than 9 months before he was remarried to Harriet Elizabeth Jones (1864-1956) on 1 May 1900 at Bettws-y-Coed, Denbighshire.
All is not quite what it appears to be from this marriage entry and the 1891 census for Harriet Elizabeth Jones (known as ‘Lizzie’).
It would seem that Lizzie and her sister Diana were middle class young ladies of private means in 1891 and Lizzie returned ‘home’ to get married. However their father William Jones was in fact an agricultural labourer who had failed as a publican, and was certainly not a rich farmer. Also they came from Bangor-on-Dee on the border with England, and had no apparent connection with Bettws-y-Coed. It seems probable that John Williams had been supporting a ‘love nest’ in Liscard for many years, and at a decent interval after Mary Ardern Langshaw died, he took Lizzie off to a place where none of them were known, and returned to West Kirby as if he had met and married her in Wales.
In 1901 the family are living at Caldy Road, West Kirby, John is dealing in ship’s stores and Hubert is still at school. Lizzie’s younger sister Diana Jones (1875-1952) is also part of the household. John, Lizzie and Diana moved to 31 Westbourne Grove, West Kirby by 1911, and John had retired.
By 1911 Hubert and his brother John have moved out and are living together at 13 Hawarden Avenue, Birkenhead. They occupy 3 rooms in a house headed by a middle aged spinster, who also has another 2 rooms occupied by a ‘boarder’. John is a buyer for a firm of boiler makers, and Hubert is clerk to a chartered accountant.
Whatever his sons may initially have thought of their father’s remarriage, on 10 Dec 1911, John Langshaw Williams married his father’s sister-in-law Diana Jones at St Bridget, West Kirby.
It seems that everyone then lived together at 31 Westbourne Grove, West Kirby and, apart from Hubert, died there.
It is not certain when John Williams died, but it was probably in 1914 or 1915. The 1914 Kelly’s Directory shows John Williams’ address as 31 Westbourne Grove, but when Hubert died in 1915, it was his brother John who executed his will and who put a death notice in the Chester Chronicle calling Hubert ‘his beloved brother’.
There is no trace of a probate record for John Williams, so presumably he left very little money. It looks as though John Langshaw Williams must have supported his step mother / sister-in-law for the rest of her long life. it is not known whether or not he served in the armed forces during the war, but if he did, it was probably after 1915.
It is not known when Hubert enlisted. He is not listed in the Deeside Advertiser of 6 November 1914 as already in the services, but it is not certain that he was living in West Kirby at that date.
All that is know of his service comes from his medal card
and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records, from which we know he served first as a Private, and later as a Lance Corporal in the 1st / 4th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment. He arrived in Gallipoli on 8 Aug 1915 and died in action a week later. There is a slight discrepancy as the CWGC states he died on the 18 Aug and the record card and probate record state the 15 Aug.
Although he was 31 years old when he died, he only left £17, so had clearly not been previously given any substantial amount by his father.
He was remembered by his friends at school as an artist who had contributed sketches to the manuscript Caldeian magazine.
His body was not recovered, so he is commemorated on the Helles Memorial.
Birth: Apr 1884 at Birkdale, Lancashire
Death: 15 Aug 1915 at Gallipoli; killed in action
Addresses: Parkgate (91); Caldy Road, West Kirby (01); 13 Hawarden Avenue, Birkenhead (11); 31 Westbourne Grove, West Kirby (probate)
Occupation: clerk to chartered accountant
Unit: 1st / 4th Battalion Cheshire Regiment
Number and Rank: 1873; Lance Corporal
Medals: 15 Star, Victory and British War
Commemorated: Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey; panels 75–77; St Bridget & St Andrew, West Kirby
Sources: GH, WK, CWGC, MC, Census: 91, 01, 11, BR, PR, CGB, Probate, Chester Chronicle, Griffiths Land Valuation for Ireland,